SAN DIEGO — The San Diego State men’s basketball team hit the court for their first official practice on Monday with tip-off about six weeks away.

“We have a lot of talent, now we have to put it together,” said Head Coach Brian Dutcher. 

The Aztecs return four out of five starters from last year’s roster that posted a 23-9 record, earning a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

“I say with our roster, it’s a player’s dilemma, and a coach’s delight,” continued Dutcher, “We have a lot of players and I’m going to have a hard time finding minutes for everybody but these guys are wired the right way. They’re wired to win, they may not like all the things that happen over the course of a year but they’re all really good kids that want to win more than anything else.”

Despite returning that starting experience, Coach Dutcher added that he’s not set on any of those previous starters, starting.

“There’s gonna be strong competition for playing time, starting time, and that’s the way we like it,’ said Dutcher, “When we recruit, we don’t promise anything other than opportunity, we don’t promise starting minutes, we don’t promise anything other than opportunity so now it’s up to them to seize that opportunity.”

The Aztecs will play a 12-game non-conference schedule to open this season, with seven of those opponents coming from either a Power 5 Conference or teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season. 

“We’ve challenged ourselves this year with maybe the hardest schedule we’ve ever played,” continued Dutcher, “It’s murderers row, but that’s what we’ve chosen to play. No one’s forced us to play that schedule. It’s what we wanted to do and we’re excited about that challenge.”

SDSU will play its lone exhibition at Viejas Arena against San Diego Christian on Tuesday, November 1st. They open their regular season at home about a week later on Monday, November 7th against Cal State Fullerton.